Powerful

“You don’t even know how powerful you are yet”

A friend told me that, earlier this year.

They were right.

This whole year I’ve been in a power struggle with my own being.

I started the year on the fumes of a year full of a “let go” theme. I rolled into the New Year set on shedding and grooming my self care. And in that new routine practice I found a voice that had been waiting.. waiting for a chance to speak.

That voice came out with friends, in self talk, with clients, in my business, and in networking.

It scared me. Often.

Then I noticed.. it only was scary when I tried to hold it in, or didn’t trust it.

The more I got comfortable with speaking the truth pouring out from within- the less terrifying it became. As I learned how to express tact with honesty I saw how my words created power for others.. empowered their own inner dialogue to shift.

In that process I began sensing efficacy in that inner fire. The inner power.

I realized that for so long I associated power with ego, and ego was something I’d worked so hard on releasing attachements to.

But.. are power and ego the same thing?

Not essentially, no.

“You haven’t realized how powerful you are”.. no.. I haven’t. But- I’m learning to experience power and not judge it for inspiring ego. Ego comes with being human- but observing it as part of our being enables it to let go of it’s hold on us.

So I continued to let go, to allow a flow to occur. Things, people, places- they come, they go, they call, they don’t call. It all ebbs and flows.

The pace of our lives sometimes carries us and sometimes we have to exercise control to gain perspective.

Where I sit now I sit in extreme accord with the voice that resides within and the fire that creates action. However I also am at peace with sometimes sitting and letting that voice mature.

My recent trip to Spain was the first travel experience where I honestly didn’t feel the need to reflect, examine, or exercise personal growth tactics.

I just was.

I came home with ideas and thoughts and progressions that I”ve been able to enact with new energy and a stronger voice then before.

I’ve had meetings and experiences since that have caused me to question everything about my experience so far, and how I want to use that experience to create new endeavours and what my purpose is.

I’ve seen love change forms in my life only to strengthen in it’s diversity. Expectations shift from set in stone to malleable elements serving equally those involved. Realities shift from what and who we are taught to be to understanding who we truly are, deep down, and exploring the purpose we all arrive with. Allowing that purpose to take on varying forms.

My life as it stands is wonderful and I look on it every day with newfound gratitude. For the opportunities and the power that resides within me- to give back, to create change, to build the reality I want to exist within.

True unhappiness or unsettledness stems in ignorance of self, distrust in the inner voice.

We learn to listen to that voice through experiencing the smallest moments life brings to us. A client planking for the first time in their two year history with you- and rocking it. A group fitness class that shows enthusiasm for the changes they are ready to make. Listening to an inspiring person in your life speak and feeling blessed to have them in your life. Seeing a friend break through their own internal struggles and let light into their being again.

All these small things are why we are here, and they are only found once we let go enough to let them shine through.

 

(Thank you to Jenaya Larisse Photography for the wonderful portrait ūüíĖ)  

Train like you mean it

I’ve been riding for a while. I’ve also been an athlete in many other sports for a while. I used to spend countless hours defending the sport of riding to my gym teacher, who didn’t want to let me count the hours I spent riding as hours towards my credit, this was the same man who coached me for 4 years in countless soccer, basketball, and badminton matches- and watched me participate in volleyball, track, cross-country, and awarded me athletic dedication awards in both my Varsity years.

The defending didn’t stop there, of course, the equestrian sport is not always highly regarded as the image of athleticism (on the rider’s part anyway). Those who don’t do it, don’t understand it. Yet, even those who don’t play basketball/football/gymnastics/etc consider those who participate athletes. You can clearly see the sweat dripping off those athlete’s bodies, you see the tole a performance has on them, and often through media you get a glimpse into their intense training regimes, nutrition, and the prices they pay for their sport.

Unfortunately, often the way the media represents the equestrian culture is questionable- and the most prominent image is one of catty drama on lesser known reality shows, the latest fashion craze, or as a sport exclusive to the wealthy and upper class. I can’t say that all of the above isn’t true, I’ve seen it all first hand- even the truly questionable “fashionista’s” on campus wearing “hunter” boots with, get this, fake spurs attached. However, I also know the other side of the lifestyle, one where sometimes success doesn’t only come to the ones wealthy enough to buy it, but also to those dedicated enough to work for it.

Don’t worry, I’m not about to write another one of those oh so popular posts about how equestrians should be held up to the same standard of athleticism as all those other athletes, and how it’s a tragedy how we aren’t thought of as super-human athletes. After all, we are in the Olympics, and “we put our lives at risk”, and blah blah blah “it’s just as hard as football”. It’s been said before, and all those rants are out there to be agreed with or argued with already. The world doesn’t need another.

I’m not going to rant on that, because to be honest, so much of this sport is unique to many others. And I know how hard other athletes work, I see it all the time in my career, and I’ve experienced it as an athlete in other sports myself. Every sport is a little bit different, and I don’t think it’s fair to complain because equestrians aren’t considered the same athlete as an athlete in another sport. Especially when often those who complain the most are the one’s who act least like an athlete.

Equestrians aren’t at the same standard as other athletes, nor are they above or below that standard. I’ve spent a lot of my University career doing projects on how aspects of what we do as riders takes serious athleticism, and changed many a doubter’s mind. The farther I get in my degree, the more people I run into that don’t need convincing- they have had experience working with or talking to equestrians that take themselves seriously- and therefore are taken seriously by others. That is what I would like to talk about. Why riders need to take themselves a little more seriously, and spend a little less time trying to convince other’s why they’re worthy of being called an athlete.

I believe in order to be an athlete, no matter what your sport, you have to earn that title– its not a label that should be freely given as soon as you sign up for a team or pay a certain amount of money for the equipment. It’s a mindset, a lifestyle, and a dedication to yourself and to your chosen purpose. It’s hard work.

In the last case study I did, on how to train an elite equestrian athlete (a project I had to fight to get permission to do), I originally thought I would spend a lot of time focusing on why a trainer should take the sport seriously- but instead ended up writing about why the rider who choses to go above and beyond just the training done in the saddle has the potential to do so much more in the saddle. A rider who trains like an athlete (in all definitions of the word), considering aerobic, strength, agility, and other types of strength training as a regular addition to time spent working directly with a horse as well as proper nutrition and a balanced lifestyle is often the rider who has more success then one who does all their training in the tack. Don’t get me wrong, a considerable amount of time working in the saddle is also a necessary part of being successful- but developing total body strength, awareness, and increasing overall self-confidence need to be developed off of the horse as well.

Why is functional strength valuable to a rider? To start, you’re on a 1200lb animal often moving at a decent pace toward large objects. If you don’t have the strength to hold yourself in position while that 1200lbs defies gravity for you, good luck sticking in the tack- let alone lasting around a full course. C often uses the phrase “Don’t pull, resist” when training. It takes more strength to patiently resist a horse pulling at your hands then it does to get into a tug-o-war with the same animal. You’re more likely to make your point with steady, consistent enduring then by fighting a losing battle. Strength is necessary, and a strong patient rider will over and over again be more effective then one who isn’t. Riding shouldn’t be a power-struggle, and developing the strength to effectively use your body in the saddle and develop a functional relationship with a horse will long-term prevent unnecessary conflict, mistakes, and injury.

What does body awareness have anything to do with riding? The horse is the one doing all the moving and balancing, right?

As a rider you gain an extra four legs, two floppy ears, and a tail. Being able to balance your own body through time and space is highly recommended if you plan on guiding that 1200lb addition around a large obstacle course. Knowing how to apply a precise amount of pressure in your ring finger, calf, or how to effectively shift your body weight in the tack to rebalance your mount and communicate the next move- ¬†are all tools in the rider’s tool box, tools that are only sharpened with increased body awareness.

Yes, you could get away without the above two skills as a rider. You’d have a tougher time working with difficult horses, making it through week long competitions, and achieving the necessary precision to be the best.. but you’d get by. The confidence thing, though, is kind of a make it or break it thing. Confidence is the difference between a run-out at jump #2 and a clear round. Confidence is what trains a horse, and what makes a team work. In any sport, confidence is a trait found in every successful athlete.

What helps build confidence? Knowing your body’s capabilities, strength, awareness, countless time spent practicing, both skills directly related to the sport and developing those skills away from the sport as well.

Over the past couple years I’ve had a shift within my own mindset. The reason behind that was partly through education, but also through experience. The last few years have brought a huge increase in my own skill as a rider. Much of that I credit to joining a team of dedicated riders, under two of the most dedicated coaches I’ve met, in any sport. The drama that floats through the horse world doesn’t interrupt the patient process of skill development that takes place within this group. The results seen each season speak for themselves.

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I also credit that to an increase in confidence that I am doing what I need to be doing to be the best I can be in every aspect. I started paying less attention to if others took me seriously, and spent more time taking myself seriously. I started applying the training I did in other sports to training outside of the saddle. As my fitness (physical and mental) improved, my riding improved. I didn’t need to prove to others how riding should be taken more seriously. If I took it seriously, and trained like any other athlete, people started to take it seriously too.

In the New Year I will be running a training program for riders. Not only is this a first for me, teaching a class of this type, it’ll be something new for the MB riding community. I know many riders who do train outside of what they do on a horse- and it shows in their riding. Riding does require athleticism, more then many people realise, and the best way to demonstrate that is by being the best you can be.¬†I am hoping to pass on some of my own experience both in riding and in the training industry to fellow riders through this program which is designed to enhance the skills we already have from being in the saddle.

A rider who is strong and balanced will create a strong and balanced horse.

I am hoping to periodically write bits of info about different aspects of training as an equestrian for readers as well, based on things that I incorporate into the training program, and things that I do in school. Stay tuned for those.

To all the riders, or athletes, out there reading this- What do you do to be your best? Is what you’re doing going to get you where you want to go?

My new nickname and somehow achieving goals

I’ve had such an up and down couple weeks! One day I can come home completely exhausted and de-motivated, and then the next I will have absolutely everything completely inspire me and tell me I’m exactly where I want to be. Between it all I turned 21, and am managing to stay on track and achieve little goals everyday. Somehow.

I just finished writing a blog post for my practicum requirements- it had “surviving” in the the title. Which should give you a good idea of how I feel about everything right now. I’m making it happen, sometimes barely. Don’t get me wrong, my perspective on surviving is a good one. I’m somehow keeping up to my plans. Which is huge- because my plans are big and daunting and scare me most of the time.

So, what have I been up to the past two weeks?

Everything. Legitimately go from one end of the spectrum to the next in a day. Absolute insanity.

Its not uncommon for me to start my day at the barn where Horse Connection is based working with some of their new horses. The horse I’ve been focusing on is Sonny, a 7 yr old paint who is relatively new to the program. He is also relatively new to all things balance, forward motion, collection, and anything faster then a jog. The program directer asked me to put some miles on him before we start with the kids in a few weeks, and the first time I rode him it was easy to tell he wasn’t lacking in brains- just in motivation. Our first ride was a lot of walking, figuring out what he knew and didn’t know. I realized quickly that nobody had really ever helped in out with balance. So, I spent time giving him guidance in that area. Circles, bending, transitions, serpentines, and more transitions.That first ride I was only able to keep him at a canter for one circle in each direction- and trotting was also pretty messy. He just wasn’t convinced about where to put his feet and how to hold his head. I came out of it with lots of ideas with what to do next with him. The next time I got on Sonny, it was clear I had made an impression on him. Right away he was walking with more confidence and putting himself in a gorgeous frame. His trot had more impulsion, he didn’t fall into our circles as much, and I didn’t have to encourage him as much to keep moving forward through the trot and walk. When I asked him to canter, he wasn’t overly motivated- but I kept him at a consistent pace for well over 6 circles in each direction, which he hasn’t done for anybody yet. I was pretty surprised with how quickly he made progress- and it was one of those beautiful horse-rider moments where you can feel progress happening. The director was around to see this ride, and was equally impressed with his progress. Which is always nice to hear!

So that’s the first major commitment I have. Next I head to school- where I listen and practice practical skills. This past week I started researching ideas for a pathology research paper. There are two options that interest me, one of which is hippotherapy as a intervention for cerebal palsy (might as well seeing as I’m going to be getting hands on experience with this once Horse Connection starts up), and the other on the pathology of post concussion syndrome. Also pretty relevant to my career as an AT. This past week I also helped with fitness testing in the older adults fitness class I’m working with. The testing we do now, and again at the end of the program, is going to be used in some research one of the profs is doing- and I’m hoping to get involved with- on the effects of exercise on an ageing population. ¬†Among some of the other fun things I learned this week in classes were pre-event massage, which is exhausting to perform, and hilarious to receive. You find out very quickly where you are ticklish, and learn that you can make some pretty interesting noises when trying to stifle laughter and not kick your lab partner in the face. Later in the week I also learned how to make a orthotic cast and assess gait/foot postures. It was pretty fun to play with plaster, and I now have a lovely cast of my foot courtesy of my lab partner. Below is a picture of my looking way to happy while working on my partner’s foot.

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After classes finish for the day I can be headed one of many directions. Sometimes its to a yoga class, other times it’s cooking with my bestie. This week we made Chicken and bacon alfredo(made with coconut milk) spaghetti squash with saut√©ed spinach and asparagus with a side of gluten free garlic toast. Mostly paleo, all delicious.

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If it’s work I’m off to, I get to spend time watching and learning from the AT at the gym. This week he had me teach and supervise exercises with a couple clients as well as stretch them out. He gave me the complement of telling me my “flow” has greatly improved in the past few weeks, and I’m becoming much more confident and efficient. Eee!

On Friday’s I head to football, where I tape, stretch, watch, assess, and dress cuts and abrasions. And banter with the players. I’m no longer known as “trainer #2”, “other trainer”, “that girl”, or “not Nikki” anymore. I am now acknowledged as “Trainer Kat”. They can’t figure out my full name, which majority of the population can’t apparently. I’ll take it though, it has a good ring to it.

I had a big moment at this week’s game. Even though it was pretty chilly, I got 3 half-decent heel-locks in a row (if you don’t know what this is, just know that it’s a huge challenge for me) in my ankle taping (3/6 for that event- definite improvement!), and performed an assessment/referral on a wrist fracture and concussion testing on two players–by myself! I also didn’t forget any steps like I usually do! I also managed to tape an ankle at half with hands that were completely numb from cold. That was a challenge. And it’s not even that cold out yet. During the game, my supervisor and the head trainer for the team, nudged me on the shoulder and pointed to one of the players ¬†I had taped and another player who I had dressed a cut on (and later assessed his wrist) and said “look, that’s your hard work out on the field- you can be proud of that”. After reading my reflections from the past couple weeks, she also let me know that she is really happy with me and has some more challenges for me in the next few weeks. I’m so lucky to be surrounded with teachers and peers who are willing to push me and challenge me exactly the way I need. It’s not uncommon for me to feel completely¬†overwhelmed a lot of the time. But at the same time I have had so many feelings of accomplishment alongside the overwhelmed feeling.

When I’m not in school, working, taping footballers, cooking, reading, researching, riding, or sleeping- I’m working out, coaching, and practicing taping. This weekend I got back into the gym, and started lifting actual weights again for the first time since May. Oh my gosh did that feel good. Overhead BB press and hex bar Deadlifts 10×5 followed by pushing the sled for 3x3min intervals. That’s a welcome back.

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Afterwards I took some time and used my friends foot to perfect some taping. An AT’s tape job is their best advertisement- or so my supervisor likes to say- so I’m really working not only on functionality but also presentation. My ankle taping is getting better and better, it’s by far the one I do the most. I can now do it in under 3 minutes. I also worked on some taping for turf toe (hyperextension) and arch support. Here’s some pictures!

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The last thing I’ve filled my schedule with is coaching a new client- which is such a nice way to finish up my crazy weeks. Working with a horse and rider that are willing to learn on a crisp fall morning- how much better could it get?

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This year has already been so crazy, in so many ways. I’ve been able to integrate my life as an equestrian into my school schedule. I’m getting to ride and coach, alongside work towards goals in the other part of my life. I used to worry about how these two parts of my life would fit together, but currently I’m getting a glimpse at how they can work really well together. Did this recap of the past while leave your head spinning? Don’t worry, mine too. I’m starting to see my future in a much clearer perspective now as I get more involved in the last half of my degree and gain real life experience in the field. I’m having to work so hard and the most minute things, but I’m being rewarded for it in sometimes the most abstract ways. I feel very blessed to have found things in this life that I am head over heels in love with. I’m thriving on surviving (feel free to throw this back at me when I’m complaining about midterms).

Each day brings a new challenge and a new goal to achieve. I hope I can keep keeping up!

 

 

 

Momentum

First of all, I am so happy with this weekend. Second, I’m still coming down from the “horse-show high” so if this post is a little scatter-brained, forgive me. Third, it’s a long one. I neglected to write down thoughts for each day- sooo I’m combining them all into one. You’ll be okay. Take breaks if you need to (I took about 3 to write this post).

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Let’s start with Friday. Warm-ups on Friday were great! It was our first time in the outdoor rings at Brandon, as well as our first outdoor experience (showing and training) since August 2012. So, it would be natural to expect a little bit of a gong show. However, Willard was impressively more chill than I expected him to be. Yes, we were excited. And yes we had a little bit of a motor, BUT, we were controllable and willing to participate in common sense. The deep sand footing helped, I’m sure, keep the shenanigans down. We discovered quickly while galloping around that the ring was unique in that in had slight uphills and downhills throughout. It added a cool challenge to courses over the weekend as you needed to plan for those changes- some lines would ride tighter or longer- and singles could come up pretty quick on the downhill if you weren’t careful. That, along side the deep footing, were a variable in the number of rails throughout the riders this weekend. ¬†I must say though, Will loved the footing. He’s always been a sand horse, but he felt amazing in this ring.

We actually had two warm-ups on Friday. As I was hacking him around in the warm-up ring, M called me over to the main ring and popped me over some smaller jumps- mainly trotting in and calm canter out- just to see how he was going to handle life in general. After about 40 minutes of that he told me to go back to the barn and get C, and let her know that I was ready to do some real work now. C, surprised I had already done some jumping, worked us for at least another 40 minutes- this time doing the usual schooling of cantering to everything and working around a full course. Here is where I started to feel great in the tack. The added challenges of the slanty-uphill-downhill ring made rider effectiveness imperitive to success. Coming into the diagonal line up the centre? Left leg, left leg, left leg. Otherwise the slight uphill with the left slant drags you out and your line to the in jump gets blurry- causing rails either in or out (which we learned the hard way a few times). This year so far as been new for me in that I can actually be more effective in those ways. I can think my way through a course while riding it, and control my aides appropriately. Before it all became kind of a blur. Mentally and physically I feel like I’ve broken into a new dimension. And I like it.

Saturday.

IMG_2991It was a little bit chilly…

This was one of those days where you just had to laugh. Being the nineteenth class in, the morning was a lot of.. well not a lot of much actually. Trying to stay warm. We went for breakfast at a nearby bakery (which was somewhat torture for me.. smell of freshly baked cinnamon buns when you can’t have any?) and then us hunters braided and finally it was time to go. Our first two hunter rounds, Willard had his motor running at high speed and we were a little bit too keen. However, they were good schooling rounds and by the time the Classic came along we were a little bit more chilled about things. We rode the Classic at 3ft and had a really good round, with an unfortunate rail at the second jump. Because of this our score was dropped under 50 and we didn’t make the call-back round- however I was perfectly fine with this as it just felt so good to be on our rhythm again. Rails happen. Especially at the first outdoor show of the year in deep, new, footing.

Here is our Classic round¬†<—Click there.

Now it was time for the jumpers. I can’t say I wasn’t nervous. Or excited. I was. Just a little. Enough to cause me to attempt to put my gloves on the wrong hands.. M was questioning my sanity, hands down. My horse was also feeling some of that. Also a little confused as to why we were back in the ring and why there were so many new and exciting jumps this time. ¬†We worked our way down to the first jump, a oxer with white rails on top and a plank with colourful “bubbles” on the bottom. Annnnnnd we stopped 3 strides out, Willard was a bit surprised by this new and odd looking thing in front of him. No worries. With a good snort, and a small tap beside my leg with my stick, ¬†we galloped around again and this time I was able to convince (tell) him that jumping over the scary bubbles was a good plan. After this we had a nice forward pace around to the vertical bricks on the diagonal five strides to the ¬†red and white planks out. Around again to the green oxer five strides to a one-stride out combination. This is where Willard needed to test the effectiveness gravity, and the distance a 160lb rider could fly before succumbing to the forces acting. Luckily the jump standard caught me. I must say I’ve developed cat like reflexes in the air. I came out of that with only a beautiful bruise on my thumb from trying to hug the standard as I collided with it.¬† Still 14IMG_2998

So that was a bit disappointing. Well, more so frustrating. Mostly because it was almost entirely outside of my control. We had the perfect distance and I was riding well. Nobody saw the abrupt change of pace coming, if you watch the video (which is hilarious- mostly because of my mom’s comments throughout) you’d also be surprised to see my flying through the air as if that was the plan. The theory I’ve come up with is that he was just a little surprised at how much fun he was having and his excitement took over his brain causing a system overload (side effect of being a thoroughbred…). As much as I was frustrated and disappointed.. and as usual, my brain was involuntarily making my tear ducts open. I was greeted at the out gate by the most amazing group of people. M and C, as well as the rest of the McMullan team. They helped me not only reassure myself and my bruised confidence- but also laugh it off. Because what else can you do, really. Especially when M puts his hands on your shoulders, looks you straight in eyes, and introduces you to the “McMullan rule”… “It’s not acceptable to come out of the jumper ring with tears, unless you’re hurt. Otherwise I send you back to the hunter ring”. I wonder if laughing and crying is an exception… Anyways, no time later it wasn’t frustrating anymore, it was just an experience that was actually more funny than anything. It would be no fun if things went perfectly every time. Horses keep us humble, right?

That evening a few of us headed to a local restaurant called Komfort Kitchen- which I highly recommend! A nice wind-down from the day, and a reminder of how far things have come and what the potential is for the future. That was a lot of the atmosphere for the weekend, actually. Which is exactly how a competition should feel.

Sunday. Oh, Sunday. I loved Sunday.

Because of our projectile debut in jumpers the day before, I dropped down a level into the 2’6 class for Sunday. As much as I wanted to stay at 2’9, this was a fantastic choice for confidence building. Jumpers came first thing Sunday morning, and the course was only slightly changed from the day before- with the same first three fences. Which was nice, as we already had confidence over those three. This time, things were a little less new (although just as exciting). Coming up to the first jump there was a fair amount of Will saying “uhhh I was scared of this yesterday.. maybe I should also be scared of it now?” and me saying “nope. Get over it.” and him actually responding in a positive manner. This was the theme for the rest of the course. Coming into the combination that ended us the day before, this time it was further into the course, I rode it exactly the same in and set him up nicely- thankfully this time there was no questions asked and no gravity checks. We earned a second place in that class!

IMG_2990Our first official jumper ring ribbon!

Our hunter rounds that day were also quite good. The first, was a little bit quick- Willard’s motor was still running on high from the jumper round earlier that day. So in between we did trot laps of the warm-up ring. By the time we went in for our final class of the weekend, the 3ft stake class, the motor was a little more settled and we put in a nice clean round which earned us a 3rd beneath some great rounds by two other McMullan riders. It was a great way to end off a fantastic weekend!

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One of the most exciting things for me was actually getting to feel strong and effective in the tack and not ¬†hurt. Anywhere. Also, not constantly be thinking about when the hurt is going to come back. It’s amazing how effortless things get when you aren’t trying to compensate for anything. You can actually ride. You can stay positive- both physically and mentally. All the work I’ve done inching my body towards health and strength these past years is really starting to show. I’m in the best shape of my life, and starting what looks to be a new era as an pain-free athlete. FINALLY. I am starting to build a trust in myself that wasn’t always there before, which is only helping my skills in the saddle.

I also survived on my new eating habits. I’m no longer a cheap date (not sure I ever was, to be honest), as often the only thing I can eat on the menu at many restaurants now is steak (love it). I’ve also found that I’m craving things I used to really not like. Tomatoes for one. And grilled shrimp. It’s really odd to all of a sudden just want something you’ve been disgusted by for most of your life. However, the body generally knows what it needs so I’m going to trust that logic.

So there you go. A pretty thorough play-by-play of my weekend. I’ll post the videos of my hunter rounds from Sunday once I can, and hopefully some pictures as well! Unfortunately mom was so excited about my jumper round she forgot to video tape it. But, there will be more of those. M has said, in his way, that I did well enough this weekend that he will keep me around for the next show. The momentum we’re building is taking us in a new and exciting direction. The highs and the lows are teaching us more about each other, and me more about myself. It’s been years of baby steps- but all the little things are starting to add up. ¬†We learned so much at this show, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

945040_10151692181008086_2016810418_nFocus on your goals and believe in your actions. Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action. 

 

Carrot at the end of the stick

“You’ve got that ‘march glaze’ about your eyes.. its that time of year for you students”

Yep.

Talk to any student right now and they’ll either give you a zombie-like reply and/or mumble something about “only 3 weeks left.. so close”. I know pretty much all my peers, as well as myself, are pretty much over the whole classes, assignment, school idea.

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Totally burned more calories on my run then are in this dish…. Totally.

It carries over to other things as well- like running. Tonight, for instance, the only reason I convinced myself that doing my run was a good idea was by bribing myself with cake and ice cream. Productive? No, not really. But, hey, it worked. And it was better than sitting on the couch and eating cake anyway. Right?

But in all seriousness- I’ve been working really hard at keeping my motivation levels up. 2 weeks ago now I started a self-designed “pre-show season bootcamp”, which I have been sticking to as best I can. I’ve been putting all the fitness programming knowledge I’ve learnt this year into action (anybody want a trainer?), and feeling the results. In a good way! Since I’ve made so much progress with my back and hip issues- much thanks to the great AT/Chiro that helped me get on this track, Dr. Notley – I want to go into this season as best prepared as I can to not back track. There is definitely some fear there that it will all kick up again as soon as I start riding full time- but I’m trying to keep my thoughts trained on the fact that I’m in great shape and stronger then I’ve ever been. And if it does, then I know how to work through it. Anybody who has had a lingering injury will know how tough that can be sometimes. If you’re interested in seeing some of my workout plans, I post them all on my Fitness Log, so feel free to take a look!

It’s been a pretty quiet few weeks for me, school wise. Well. Relatively speaking of course. It’s kind of the quiet before the storm. The storm being finals. The quiet being me still running around 6 days a week not knowing what I’m doing half the time. But hey, I’ll take it. The last big project I worked on and finished (B), was a group presentation on “Norms in Athletic Therapy” for psych skills in sport and life. Past being frustrated with my fellow group members for most of it (apparently none of them had really done a presentation or public speaking before…(thank you 4H)), it was a pretty fun project. Instead of sticking to boring classic research for our references- we decided to interview two practicing ATs from the community and use their answers to support our points. Norms was a pretty tough concept for us to present- and there were definitely aspects we lost marks on because of that. Norms are the things you do in life, but don’t think about really.. ever. For an AT it would be something like showing up before a practice, having a certain set of personality characteristics (naturally or taught), or being the type of person people are comfortable talking to. Its things that aren’t in the code of conduct, but things that are often past down through peers or teachers you have along the way. What norms do you have in your career, or daily life? In groups/organizations you are a part of?

The next big paper I’m writing is on (hopefully anyway, proposing the idea to my prof tomorrow) the Canadian Eq. Team and the Tiffany Foster situation at the olympics- mainly on how Eric Lamaze and the other members of the team reacted relating to the topic of “leadership” in sport. Should be a pretty interesting topic, I think!

In health news I’ve finally got a date with a specialist… unfortunately not for another month or so- which I guess isn’t bad for wait time. I’ve also started looking into seeing a naturopathic doctor- so here’s where I ask you lovely readers- does anyone know of good names in Winnipeg?

As I alluded to in the opening paragraphs- I’m in the homestretch for the semester. What’s my “carrot at the end of the stick”? Besides cake.. it’s getting on my horse and starting spring training! Everyday I get through is one day close to riding season. Assuming I can get my saddle on the white buffalo…

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Do what you love. Find it. Do it well. If you don’t know how to do it, learn. Know that it will rough you up a few times, and occasionally bring you to tears. Do it anyway, to the best of your ability. You’ll have no other choice. There is no end- only the journey. It will be a long one- but know this: You will be forever changed.

Relive

People often say, don’t linger on the past- focus on the future. I have always been one to lean towards the philosophy of learning from what’s behind you- and letting those lessons help you get through what’s ahead of you. There is something to be said for both trains of thought. Letting the past further complicate you’re future is not very constructive. Lingering in the past is only okay if you are being proactive about it.

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Quite a few times this week, through a variety of different conversations, I’ve ended up telling stories (lengthly ones) about experiences I had while overseas in NZ. For anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis, you’re probably sick and tired of reading my reflections on those experiences.. so.. sorry? Suck it up?

If you’ve travelled before- you’ll know the feeling of reliving certain experiences.. having flashbacks if you will.. of moments from wherever you were. When I first got home it happened to me all the time. Vivid recollections of the smallest random memories. Everyday, no matter what I was doing, I’d end up reliving a different part of NZ. Over time of course it’s happened less frequently, but it still happens now and again. Today, for example, it was running at 5:30am down the road outside of Clevedon- watching the sunrise and the morning mist lift. A quiet moment alone with an astounding landscape surrounding me before starting work at LC. How and why my subconscious chooses what I’m going to be reliving and when is unknown to me.

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It used to be and sometimes still is a very bittersweet thing for me. For quite a while I was pretty caught up in the negatives of some of the experiences I had. To this day if I hear the ringtone I had as my alarm while I was working at LC, I will feel physically ill. It took me a long time to get to a point where I stopped lingering on the fact that it wasn’t the “perfect” trip- but rather the perfect opportunity for me to figure a lot of stuff out. Pre-trip, I was excited for the experiences I planned (lol at planning experiences, like that ever works)- to find out who I was away from everything I knew.. during I was lost..post-trip I was somewhat bitter but mostly just still lost. In all reality, I ended up accomplishing exactly what I wanted through those 6 months away, “finding out who I was away from everything I knew”. Indirectly, by utilizing plan B, C, D, through Z- I got a solid grasp on who I am. Even if it took me a few “recovery” months to figure that out.
“…the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.”

Pretty much nothing I had planned pre-trip worked out. The job, was, to put it mildly, a low point in my life- however I am quite happy it was that. My travelling (that wouldn’t have been possible if the job had worked out), was quite alternative to the regular backpacker “thing”. I like to say that I got to see the “real NZ”, opposed to the “tourist NZ”. Seeing the country by travelling the rodeo circuit with a bunch of crazy cowboys is not something many people can say they’ve done. My travelling fund, which was supposed to have been funded by my original job, instead became funded by me selling my hair. My attempt at seeing more of the “tourist” side of the country started out according to plan (and was pretty sweet as)- but ended with me, without a phone, luckily with relatives (who I am forever grateful to), in excruciating pain for days, passing out, meeting numerous doctors, seeing the inside of a few hospitals (more of the “real NZ”?), and talking a few of those doctors out of surgery, only by promising to go straight to a doctor as soon as I got to Canada, so I could get home on time. Life keeps us humble. Of course, many of these “alternative” plans brought me to some amazing experiences! And I may not want to re-do exactly some of the things I went through, I am grateful for many of the things it brought me to (amazing family/friends, sights, sounds, smells, hairstyles I never thought I could pull off, etc.).

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“Whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.”
To nerd this post up a bit, it’s common knowledge that stressing the system is the best way to strengthen it (principle of overload); a structure will strengthen along the lines of resistance. With this in mind- I am so glad all those plans didn’t work out. Because looking back, I got through all of that- thankfully not alone (again, NZ family, my heroes for life)- lived to survive another day- plan more things to be rerouted and flipped upside down. All those days where I was lost, working through some dark stuff, where it was all I could do to get out of bed in the mornings- I still did, I kept making plans, I didn’t give up. Looking behind me now, reliving all those moments (even the unpleasant ones), helps me feel less intimidated by whatever is coming next. And believe me, I do get intimidated. Instead of making me afraid to set big goals, it did the exact opposite. It taught me that it’s okay to be flexible with my goals, my plans, my dreams. Those are lessons that are serving me well in this adventure I am now on working towards my degree and certification, and my ongoing mystery health problems..As well, of course, in my riding and athletic ventures.
“Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.”

 

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The Gift

It’s next to impossible to predict where you’re going to end up, or how happy you’re going to be, or what you need when- until you know. We go so long not appreciating what we have, only to look back and realize what we missed. Sometimes I think that happens for a reason; how else would we be able to learn from experience? There was so many times in NZ that I couldn’t get myself out of what was definitely the darkest place I’ve ever been. But upon drawing from past experience and lessons learnt I didn’t give into that, and low and behold I learned too much to list and was able to turn some brutal times into experience that will help me the rest of my life. It’s taken me awhile to be grateful for all the crap I had to handle over there- and believe me I still have moments where I struggle to see the good in some things. But it’s getting easier to appreciate ‘the gift’ all that bad brought me. Insert typical “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” quote.

I’ve been thinking about NZ a lot lately. To be honest I never really stop thinking about it. Thinking about all the good, and the.. challenging things I experienced in those 6 months away. Thinking about all that’s changed and how I’ve grown. Thinking about what I miss and what I don’t. I remember often being frustrated while I was over there because I couldn’t make progress towards goals that had to do with school, or sport and being anxious to get home for that reason; so I could get back into school and into training. What I didn’t realize then was that I was taking steps towards those goals, just in a different way. During my time there I came to the realization that I wanted to change career paths. Who knows if I would have come to that conclusion as quickly if I’d been here in school. More then that, being away taught me how much I really want to reach those goals. I came home more driven and focused then I’ve ever been in my life. And in order to keep the schedule I do, that is what I needed. There is no way I could have a life like I do right now and not be determined or focused. As it is I could do with a little more focus sometimes.

When I was flying over BC in March, looking at the snow covered mountains, I had to work hard to fight back tears. Mostly tears of excitement over being home after what seemed like a long, hard 6 months. I was ready to be back in the comfort of home. But, as anybody who travels will tell you, its hard to come home after being away for so long. Especially after growing so much as a person. ¬†It took about a week of me being home for me to feel a little lost somewhere that is the most familiar to me. But- at the same time- I came back with a different perspective. I came back ready to chase my dreams harder then I ever have before. I don’t get shaken by much anymore because more then once I’ve experienced how far you can fall and then all at once find a way to get back up. I started to realize what my priorities are, and that I can’t wait for people to make decisions about my life- because it’s just that, my life. I know I made the right decision to come home when I did. I love school, and that my horse is going as well as he is so far this season. Neither of those would have been possible without that extra 3 months in the home country. Part of what is sometimes disorientating about being home, still, is trying to fit in as the person I became in the place of the person I left as. If that makes sense. As much as I adore everything about living at home- small town life isn’t quite jamming with where I’m at right now. There really isn’t a better way to describe it.

I think the past few posts have been about my amazing horse. The fact that he has been going so well this year is also partially thanks to all those things I picked up in NZ. The confidence I feel between us lately is spectacular, and I can thank every horse, trainer, and owner that I worked with/under overseas. Riding different horses is such a good way to develop confidence and skills in the saddle. Doing that under the scrutiny of other trainers and in a high stress situation really doesn’t hurt either (well, after the fact anyway). My riding is more instinctual now. It takes less time for me to process decisions. Where I used to hesitate, I now act. All of this is effecting my horse in the most positive way possible. Because horses are such responsive creatures, every ounce of confidence I feel- he picks up too. One of the reasons riders are some of the most focused people I know- without that, there is no partnership, and with no team- you have no success. And as any rider will tell you, what you feel when all there is between you and your horse is pure trust and you feel like you can do anything- is by far the best feeling out there. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to achieve that in almost every ride this season so far.¬†

Our first show will most definitely be Summer Smiles in June at BHP. I’m more then excited, and really hoping all he’s been doing at home is going to come through at the show- otherwise I’ll look like a dick saying all these wonderful things about him haha. To makes things a little more stressful, because that’s what I excel at apparently, my final exams fall approximately 2 days after that show- which means on top of showing I’ll have to be studying in every single spare second I have. As far as the midterm, I’m not going to complain about my mark. It definitely could have been higher- but it also could have been much worse. It’s good enough to keep my average at a place I’m happy with. It’s at the right level to kick my ass in gear to push a little harder next time- which is good. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.